Steadfast saints or malleable models? : Seventeenth-century Irish hagiography revisited.
The Catholic Historical Review, 91 (2).
At one of the last sessions of the Council of Trent, the question of the
role of saints within the Church was addressed. While the fathers upheld
the value of venerating images and relics of the saints, they nevertheless
admitted that there had been some abuses of their cults in the
past. This led effectively to an effort to regulate and reform the process
of canonization,by which saints were made, involving a greater control
over the creation of saints by the authorities in Rome in order to avoid
the further growth of dubious local cults that ranged from the benign
to the bizarre.1 In other words, recognition of the sacred was centralized.
2 In the wake of the Council, and amidst criticisms of the previously
accepted view of sainthood from reformers within and without
the Church alike, the official reaction of church authorities was indecisive.
Thus, from the close of the Council in 1563 until 1588, when the
Congregation of Sacred Rites and Ceremonies was established to oversee
canonizations, there were no new saints officially recognized within
the Catholic Church.3 One of the problems facing the Church was the
prevalence of what was now considered to be questionable material in
the lives of even the officially recognized saints.A more historically critical
method of outlining the lives of saints was required if the idea
of sainthood was going to retain any credibility in a rapidly changing
Europe. In order to achieve this, the construction of new lives would
have to attain certain standards and, concomitantly, old lives that were
deficient in this area necessitated amendment. Peter Burke sees evidence
of this new and more critical approach to the lives of saints in
the work of Erasmus on the life of St. Jerome.
||Seventeenth-century Irish hagiography;
||St Patrick's College, Maynooth > Faculty of Theology
Prof. Salvador Ryan
||09 Dec 2010 16:04
|Journal or Publication Title:
||The Catholic Historical Review
||The Catholic University of America
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